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First celebrity waltzes off dancefloor following Strictly Come Dancing axe

Strictly Come Dancing (Ray Burmiston/BBBC)
Strictly Come Dancing (Ray Burmiston/BBBC)

Olympic rower James Cracknell has become the first star to depart the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor.

The sports star was widely tipped to get the boot after performing a jive with professional partner Luba Mushtuk which landed him at the bottom of the leaderboard with just three points.

Cracknell, 47, faced ex-England footballer David James, 49, in Sunday night’s dance-off.

The judges’ scores this week were added to those from last week, and were then combined with the results of the viewers’ votes to decide the lowest scoring two couples facing the dance off.

It was Cracknell’s routine to Tutti Frutti by Little Richard, which opened with the couple flipping pancakes, that failed to wow the judges.

All the judges chose to save James and partner Nadiya Bychkova, who again performed their paso doble to Spanish Gypsy by Espana Cani.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood said: “Well for me in that dance off one couple improved beyond compare and that couple is the couple I would like to save, David and Nadiya.”

New judge Motsi Mabuse added: “I felt a stronger performance, a stronger intention, clearer actions. I’m going to save David,” while Bruno Tonioli said: “I have to save the couple that really showed to me how you apply and you work on the comments of the judges and deliver a performance that is almost night and day from one day to the other.”

Head judge Shirley Ballas also said she would also have chosen to save David and Nadiya.

Reflecting on his time on the show, Cracknell said: “Definitely enjoyed the last three days of the last week as I got to grips with the steps and started to enjoy it.

“I’m enjoying it anyway, the luxury of being with someone so good and learning off them. I’m a way better dancer than I was two weeks ago.

“Luba’s been amazing with being so patient with a couple of left feet.”

In turn, Mushtuk told Cracknell he had “inspired me every day”, adding: “I hope you inspire many more other people to start dancing.”

CBBC star Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden shot to the top of the leaderboard on week two of the BBC One show with 15 points.

Tonioli praised Zeroual as “like a young Gene Kelly”, while Shirley Ballas told him: “Oh my darling you’re ticking my boxes”.

Earlier in the evening, host Tess Daly apologised to viewers for transmission problems during the opening minutes of the show.

Viewers saw a black screen pop-up several times before YouTube star Saffron Barker became the first celebrity to take to the dancefloor.

Daly told viewers: “We do apologise to any viewers who experienced any problems with transmission. We are a live show.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues next Saturday on BBC One.

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